As you start your search for the perfect piccolo, compare the brands Mendini vs. Pearl. Both brands may suit the needs of different players or the same player at different times.
While neither brand is handmade, they each have something to offer. Keep reading to learn which brand is right for you at this point in your playing journey.
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What Is the Mendini Piccolo?
The Mendini piccolo is an instrument that’s relatively cheap. It’s available primarily from a few online stores, so you’ll need to order one and have it shipped to you.
You can choose from a metal piccolo, which comes in a sky blue color, or a metal headjoint with a plastic body. These models come with the same specs you’d expect from a student piccolo.
If you go with the all-metal model, it will have a finger rest for your left hand to keep it from compressing. Both options come with cleaning accessories and a case with a strap, which isn’t super common among piccolos.
They make good piccolos for one-off events as well as players who want to try the piccolo. If you can’t rent one but don’t want to shell out a ton of money, you can figure out if you even like playing the instrument.
Who a Mendini Piccolo Is For
When comparing Mendini vs. Pearl piccolos, you may wonder who should go with either option. As much as it may surprise you, I’d recommend Mendini to a few types of people.
You’ve played the flute for a while, and you have the basics down. Now, you’re looking to play the piccolo so that you can expand your skills further.
However, you can’t afford to buy a piccolo from one of the larger brands. And renting a piccolo or borrowing one isn’t an option for you.
It may be worth considering a Mendini piccolo simply so you can try something. You can figure out if you like playing in the higher range before investing more into a piccolo that will last you for the long term.
Players on a Budget
Ideally, you’d have a big enough budget to get a piccolo from a larger maker. However, I know how privileged that statement is, so I admit the Mendini piccolo can work if you’re tight on funds.
You can play it for a few months while you save up for something else. That way, you can start to learn how the instrument works and feels in your hands.
Not everyone can afford to drop $1,000+ on an instrument they’re not sure they’ll even like to play. While it may not be the cream of the crop, a Mendini piccolo can fill that need.
Perhaps you want a piccolo that’s more for visual aesthetics than auditory ones. Whether you want to take some cute pictures or want to use a colorful piccolo in a marching show, Mendini might be for you.
As long as you don’t expect it to perform as well as your concert piccolo, a colorful instrument can be fun. You can use it for photos, and then you can turn it into a lamp or something similar.
Who a Mendini Piccolo Isn’t For
A Mendini piccolo can fill a certain need, but that need doesn’t apply to everyone. Consider if the brand may not be what you need at this point in your piccolo journey.
You may be able to start playing on a Mendini piccolo, and you could even get an okay sound out of it. But as soon as you realize you want to take the piccolo seriously, it’s time to upgrade.
These instruments aren’t designed to support the serious player. They can really limit how much you can improve your playing, so you’ll soon hit a wall.
It can feel like you’re the problem, but the instrument is the issue. There are plenty of piccolos from bigger brands where this is the case as well, so it’s not just about Mendini.
Professional Players and Teachers
If a piccolo won’t suit an aspiring student, it may not suit someone more advanced. Mendini piccolos are best for beginners, so professionals will really feel like they aren’t playing their best.
Whether you teach or perform, you need an instrument that works well. That way, you can play beautiful solos, or you can demonstrate techniques to your students more easily.
Now, a teacher may want to buy a few Mendini piccolos to have on hand. You can let students use them in lessons if they forget their own piccolos at home.
Be it in a professional orchestra or community orchestra, you probably don’t want to play a Mendini piccolo. Now, the brand itself isn’t necessarily the problem here.
Instead, the problem has to do with the materials involved. All-metal piccolos are almost unheard of in orchestras because they take more work to blend with other instruments.
Even if you get a Mendini piccolo with a plastic body, blending can be difficult. The metal headjoint can make the piccolo stick out a little more than it should.
Where to Buy a Mendini Piccolo
The main place you’ll find Mendini instruments is on Amazon. However, you can look at other eCommerce websites to find this brand and make a purchase.
Unfortunately, the big flute shops and even general music shops don’t tend to carry this brand. Of course, you may find a used one on the used market, but I’d recommend avoiding them if you can.
Do Mendini Piccolos Hold Their Value?
Mendini piccolos don’t generally hold their value that well. They’re already on the cheaper side, and lower-cost instruments tend to lose value more easily anyway.
You also won’t find a huge demand for used Mendini piccolos, which causes them to lose even more value. When a new one doesn’t cost much more, buyers don’t have a good reason to buy a used one.
What Is the Pearl Piccolo?
The Pearl piccolo is actually a line of two piccolo models. First, there’s the Pearl 105, which features a grenaditte composite headjoint and body.
That makes this piccolo a great option for indoor and outdoor performances. The composite material sound similar to grenadilla wood, but the plastic component keeps the piccolo from cracking like a wood model can.
A Pearl 165 features the same body but with synthetic pads. It also has a grenadilla wood headjoint to maximize the warm sound, but it will require more care to avoid cracks.
One of my favorite things about Pearl piccolos is that their cases come with slots for two headjoints. So you can get a wood headjoint as a small upgrade, and you can use both headjoints interchangeably.
Who a Pearl Piccolo Is For
Pearl piccolos are great for many different types of piccolo players. As you search for your next instrument, consider whether you fall into the following categories.
As I outgrew my Armstrong 204 piccolo, I upgraded to the Pearl 105, and I didn’t look back. The composite material allows you to get a better sound at a reasonable price.
You can also choose between a wave and traditional headjoint. I went with the wave, which helps me since I tend to put a lot of air into the instrument as the wave directs the air more easily.
This particular model got me through basically all of graduate school. If you can’t get the sound you want on a student piccolo, the Pearl piccolos could be what you need.
Another type of player who would benefit from a Pearl piccolo is a woodwind doubler. You have a lot of instruments to manage, and you don’t want a piccolo that requires tons of maintenance.
However, you still want to get a nice sound when you do have to play it. The Pearl piccolos are perfect because you can store them, and the bodies won’t crack while they’re in storage.
And if you get the wave headjoint, you may find it’s super easy to get a sound out. You won’t have to struggle as much as you may need to if you had a standard headjoint.
Professionals Needing a Backup
Maybe you play or teach the piccolo, and you have a more professional model, such as the Hammig 650/3. What happens when you have to take your main piccolo in for repairs?
It’s always smart to have a backup piccolo in your personal inventory in case something happens to your main one. The Pearl piccolos are great for this.
Like with woodwind doublers, you can keep your Pearl piccolo in storage until you need it. Then, it will be ready to handle almost anything you throw at it.
Who a Pearl Piccolo Is Not For
As much as I love my Pearl piccolo, I’m also the first to admit they aren’t for everyone. Some people just don’t like the brand, but there are also certain types of players who may need something else.
(Some) Marching Band Members
Before you buy a Pearl piccolo for marching band, talk to your section mates and the director. Some marching bands require the piccolo players to use an all-metal instrument.
That way, the piccolos look like the flutes, so it can be more visually appealing. You don’t want to buy a piccolo that you can’t use, so double check if your band has any such requirement.
Now, some bands don’t require specific piccolos be used. If your band doesn’t have any requirements, you can choose whichever model you want, just not wood since the piccolo will be exposed to all kinds of weather.
Players on a Budget
While the Pearl piccolos could be more expensive, they’re also not the most affordable, especially if you compare Mendini vs. Pearl. I had to save up and use a combination of gift cards and a recent cash gift to purchase mine.
Some of us just don’t have that kind of money, and that’s okay. As long as you’re not expect something top-tier, it’s okay to go with something that costs a bit less.
You can always do what I did and save up to upgrade to a Pearl model in the future.
Where to Buy a Pearl Piccolo
When comparing to purchasing Mendini vs. Pearl piccolos, Pearl wins. I got mine from Amazon, which was a bit of a risk, but it turned out well, and I’d recommend doing your research if you want to go this route.
Most major flute shops also sell Pearl instruments, so that’s a good option. And many general music stores carry the brand, so you should be able to find one in person to try before buying. The major flute shops also offer trials in person and through the mail.
Do Pearl Piccolos Hold Their Value?
Pearl piccolos can hold their value more than some brands and less than others. The value of a used Pearl depends on its age and condition.
For example, a piccolo that’s hardly played and well maintained will sell for more than one that’s sat in a closet for years.
Mendini vs. Pearl Piccolos: In Review
Whether this is your first piccolo or not, you may want to compare Mendini vs. Pearl models. Both brands have their place for different types of players.
I’d recommend Mendini to those on a super tight budget who just want to try a piccolo. Meanwhile, Pearl is better for advancing students and professionals looking for a backup.
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